ELIZABETHTON — Although the Carter County Commission approved the expenditure of litigation tax money, plus an additional $30,000 if needed, for a new roof for the Justice Center, the Building and Grounds Committee said it has not been told if the project has been submitted for bids.
The committee met Monday, but neither Mayor Leon Humphrey nor Finance Director Ingrid Deloach attended the meeting. Committee Chairman L.C. Tester said he had not been told the bidding process’ status.
The roof project has been stalled for several months after it was discovered the cost would be greater than budgeted. The reason for the higher cost was because rain had soaked the insulation, which has to be removed and replaced.
Before the cost of the roof repair went up, the committee had planned to have litigation tax money used for both the roof repair and for an additional parking lot on the north side of the Justice Center. The parking lot project has temporarily been placed on hold. The committee discovered it may have been a good thing to hold off on paving — the sheriff’s department may be removing an underground fuel tank used for its emergency generator.
Chief Deputy Ron Street said there were some mechanical problems with the generator that are being corrected. During the discussion, Street said part of the fuel system includes an underground tank. The committee thought it would be wise to see if the tank should be removed and replaced with an above-ground tank before the adjacent ground is paved for the parking lot.
The committee praised Sheriff Chris Mathes for the cleanup of the lot, which once contained the jail pods that housed 96 prisoners before the new jail was opened. The pods are now gone and Mathes has cleaned up the debris left from the move. He said more will be done when an underground cable is marked. He plans to improve the grade on a steep slope at the edge of the lot.
Street told the committee the final corrections are being performed on the new jail by Blaine Construction Co. Once the final corrections are made, there is about $50,000 in a final installment to Blaine that will be released.
In other matters, the committee also sat as the Health and Welfare Committee to hear from County Commissioner Charles Von Cannon about pollution problems on Sinking Creek. He detailed a list of problems, many that have been corrected, over the past several years. He said the sheriff’s department did a cleanup a couple of years ago that pulled out 68 tires, a washing machine, an engine block and other machinery from the creek.
He said the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation still monitors the creek, where water samples have tested positive for E. coli bacteria. He said in the past, a leak from a Johnson City sewer was found and repaired. He said there has also been special funding to help repair septic systems. Even with these corrections, Von Cannon said there has still been an oil sheen seen on the creek on occasions.
Von Cannon said part of the problem is the stream is shared by Washington and Carter counties, and “there is no communication between the counties” about the stream.
Committee Chairman Jo Ann Blankenship gave an update on negotiations between the county’s health insurer, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, and Mountain States Health Alliance. She said the two sides met three times in negotiations last week and another meeting is scheduled for Thursday. She said it was thought the two sides “would have something worked out at that time.”